Everyone loves a perfectly roasted potato - with a crisp shell, and a soft and fluffy interior, preferably served with a dash of pepper and plenty of gravy for the Sunday roast! But actually making that perfect potato is a bit of an art form, and one that eludes many cooks. Happily, BBC Food has a great guide to perfecting the humble spud, as advised by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; a man who really knows his veg!
The first important step is to pick the right potato. Hugh recommends floury varieties, such as the King Edward or Cara potato.
When you find your perfect variety, cut each tatie into small chunks (around the size of an egg).
Then, you'll need to pick your oil. Some people swear by goose fat, and others like good old-fashioned lard, but Hugh recommends groundnut or basic sunflower oil. Both are free from strong flavours and have a high smoking point, making them ideal for a hot oven interior.
Firstly, par-boil your spuds gently, in salted water for 8 minutes. Don't allow them to cook right through, and test them whilst boiling. Leave the softened potatoes to cool entirely, then scratch them all over with a fork, vigorously, and season them with a good quality salt.
If you are cooking a Sunday roast with a fatty joint, you can roast the potatoes around it - but check there is plenty of room in the tin, and a fat depth of at least 0.5cm to 0.75cm. Ideally though, simply pre-heat the oil in another pan, and add beef fat directly from the roasting tin, just before you add the potatoes. Let the oil reach a sizzling hot temperature, add the spuds, and baste them carefully, so that they are coated in oil from the start.
Then, roast them for the final 45 minutes of the joint's cooking time, and turn them once, half way through. If they still need a little crisping after the joint is ready, leave them in for another five minutes. You can turn up the heat and make a Yorkshire pudding whilst you wait!
When you're satisfied with your beautiful, crispy and golden roast potatoes, remove them from the oven, drain well, and serve with another round of salt and pepper seasoning. You may even wish to share them. Delicious!